1 March 2021 (Monday) - Ridiculous? (A Reflection)

Apparently whilst I was on a week’s holiday last week, a colleague was asked to provide blood which was halal. My immediate reaction was “well, that’s ridiculous”. But then I pondered. Was it ridiculous? Was I being disparaging about someone’s deeply-held beliefs?

I did a little research… I could be entirely wrong here and am very happy to be corrected (and would like to be corrected if I am wrong!). But from what I could find out, it seems to me that the position that standard donor blood is not halal is actually wrong in several ways from an Islamic perspective.

  • Admittedly the donor may well have consumed non-halal food, but from what I could work out a person's body (and by extension the blood they donate) doesn't become unclean from eating haram foods.
  • Moreover, the source of blood received is anonymous. If you have no knowledge of where it comes from, you can simply assume that it is clean. That is a general principle in Islamic Law.
  • Also supposing that non-Muslims were inherently impure (which is by no means a universally held view), in any sort of transplant (and a blood transfusion is cell transplant), there is a principle that the transplanted tissues become part of the body of the recipient, and become clean.
  • And presumably if you’re to receive a blood transfusion, it’s a necessary therapeutic intervention to save or protect your life. And in Islamic Law, saving a life trumps almost every other consideration.
There is quite a bit on the matter on the internet. There’s one rather good article here, and another one here, and another one here, and there’s loads more too.

 I’m reminded of an episode about twenty years ago when I was a scout leader. I was formally accused of discrimination on religious grounds, for which I pleaded guilty. I didn’t let Samir have bacon at cub scout camp because he was Muslim. His father was furious. Samir and his father both loved bacon… After a week or so Samir’s father formally apologised to me when he realised why I had done what I had done. No one had ever told him that his religion forbade him from eating pigs (And he told me that he carried on eating bacon anyway - he liked it!)
I’m also reminded of my time as a Steward in the Methodist church some forty years ago when it became painfully apparent that no two people in our church believed in the same thing, and pretty much none of the congregation knew the basic tenets of Methodism.

And I can’t help but think of my friends in Brighton who will not allow their children to read the “Harry Potter” books (or watch the films) because they are Roman Catholics (!)

So… was asking for halal blood “ridiculous”? On reflection I think I was right. It *was* ridiculous. Surely a fundamentally important part of having a religion is actually knowing and understanding the teachings of your religion.
Isn’t it?

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